Inside the Dragon’s Den

No need to dig a hole to China—Malik Cotter brings the healing arts of the Far East to Makawao Town.


In Dragon’s Den one balmy afternoon, I watch Hammond advise Joele Lebourdreau, a man from Hana who has traveled to get help for a nasty spider bite on his hand. “This is anti-venom,” Hammond explains, pointing to a product. “It’s a compound of Chinese herbs, specifically for this type of thing.” He presents options: “This is a capsule form. This is a plain powder form.” Lebourdreau chooses both, and Hammond instructs him to take the pills and mix the powder with water to create a paste for the bite wound.

While Cotter and Hammond both believe that physical health can be achieved by maintaining a proper acid/alkaline balance in the body (see sidebar), they also emphasize that true health requires more than just eating well and taking the right herbs—it is about finding the power to heal oneself. Chinese medicine incorporates activities such as tai chi, a gentle martial art that circulates energy, and Qigong, a practice that trains individuals to cultivate their inner energy. Cotter, now a master himself, teaches both at Maui Community College.

That inner energy is what Dr. Li was originally asking for from his protégé. “Dr. Li,” Cotter reflects, “taught me to understand that life is more than what I think.” And, Cotter chuckles, his great master taught him how to make one mean cup of tea.

Acidity/Alkalinity Test

Remember litmus paper, that little sheet that changes color when you dip it in vinegar or baking soda? It also works when you stick it in your mouth. The folks at Dragon’s Den swear by it. Ideally, says owner and traditional Chinese medical practitioner Malik Cotter, a person’s pH should be around 7.2—or just a tiny bit on the alkaline side.

Cotter’s general manager, Matthew Hammond (also a health practitioner), concurs. Today’s diets, which are typically rich in processed foods and meats, are very acidic, he says, noting: “A can of Pepsi would take about three dinner salads to counterbalance its acidity.” Most of the people Hammond sees in the store, or in his practice, have pH levels around 6; an undesirably low level. He recommends counteracting the acid/alkaline imbalance by eating fresh vegetables, seaweed, and fruits.

Unlike other diets that require knowing one’s blood type or metabolic nature, the acid/alkaline diet is universal. Says Cotter, “There is a generalization that everyone can be blanketed under: 80 percent alkaline, 20 percent acid.”

Dragon’s Den is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday to Saturday, and 12 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Call 572-5267 or visit to get in touch.



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